NATIONAL NEWS

Sheriff: Projectile recovered from movie director’s shoulder

Oct 27, 2021, 7:49 AM | Updated: 10:44 am
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza speaks during a press conference at the Santa Fe County Public...
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza speaks during a press conference at the Santa Fe County Public Safety Building to update members of the media on the shooting accident on the set of the movie "Rust" at the on October 27, 2021 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. On October 21, 2021, Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured on set while filming the movie "Rust" at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The film's star and also a producer Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm and a bullet hit Hutchins and Souza. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico authorities said Wednesday they have recovered a lead projectile believed to have been fired from the gun used in the fatal movie-set shooting.

Investigators discussed their initial findings in the shooting in which actor Alec Baldwin fired a gun, killing a cinematographer and wounding the director.

Testing is being done to determine whether the lead projectile recovered from director Joel Souza’s shoulder was fired from the gun — a long Colt revolver — used by Baldwin. Two other guns seized include a single-action revolver that may have been modified and a plastic prop gun that was described as a revolver.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said it’s too early to comment on whether any charges will be filed. He also noted that 500 rounds of ammunition — a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and live rounds — were found while searching the set.

The sheriff would not comment on how the rounds got on set.

Investigators said they will also be following up on reports that there were other incidents involving misfires with guns used on the set.

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said investigators can’t say whether it was negligence or by whom at this point.

Both the sheriff and district attorney said they will not rush to judgment and that more investigation is needed.

The shooting has baffled Hollywood professionals and prompted calls to better regulate firearms on sets or even ban them in the age of seamless computer-generated imagery. Court records say that an assistant director grabbed the gun from a cart and indicated the weapon was safe by yelling “cold gun.”

The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, said she checked dummy bullets on the day of the shooting to ensure that none were “hot” rounds. She also told a detective that while the guns used for filming were locked up during a crew lunch break, ammunition was left on a cart unsecured, according to a search warrant released Wednesday ahead of the press conference.

Gutierrez Reed told a detective that no live ammo was ever kept on the set.

Assistant director David Halls, who handed the gun to Baldwin before the shooting, said Gutierrez Reed typically opened the hatch of the gun and spun the drum, though he couldn’t recall if she did that before the shooting. He said he only remembered seeing three rounds in the gun.

After the shooting, Halls took the gun to Gutierrez and said he saw five rounds in the gun, at least four of them were “dummy” rounds indicated by a hole on the side and a cap on the round. Halls said there was also a casing in the gun that did not have the cap and did not have the hole indicating it was a dummy.

“David advised the incident was not a deliberate act,” according to the warrant.

The warrant was issued Wednesday in order to search a truck that was used on the set.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Investigators plan to discuss their initial findings Wednesday in the fatal movie-set shooting in which Alec Baldwin fired a gun used on set, killing a cinematographer and wounding the director.

The news conference by Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies promises the first detailed public comments by investigators about the killing of 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal at a New Mexico ranch.

The sequence of events on Oct. 21 has baffled Hollywood professionals and prompted calls to better regulate firearms on sets or even ban them in the age of seamless computer-generated imagery.

Court records say that an assistant director, Dave Halls, grabbed the gun from a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating the weapon was safe by yelling “cold gun.” But it was loaded with live rounds, according to a written affidavit from a detective.

Baldwin, 63, who is known for his roles in “30 Rock,” “The Departed” and “The Hunt for Red October” along with his impression of then-President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” has described the killing as a “tragic accident.”

Carmack-Altwies told The Associated Press prior to the news conference that the investigation is still in its early stages — far from any decisions about whether or not to file criminal charges.

She said those involved in the production were cooperating with law enforcement and that prosecutors won’t fully review evidence until the completion of an initial investigation by the sheriff’s office.

The gun Baldwin used was one of three that a firearms specialist, or “armorer,” had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to court records.

Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins and was wounded, told investigators there should never be live rounds present near the scene.

Authorities have seized three black revolvers, gun belts with holsters, ammunition boxes, a fanny pack with ammunition, several spent casings and articles of clothing and swabs of what was believed to be blood.

The production of “Rust” has been beset by workplace disputes from the start in early October. Hours before the shooting, several camera crew members walked off the set amid discord over working conditions, including safety procedures.

Baldwin in his role as actor appeared unlikely to be held criminally or civilly liable for the tragedy. As a producer, however, he is among a long list of associates on the film who could face some sort of liability.

Concerns have been raised about Halls’ safety record by colleagues on two previous productions. Halls has not returned phone calls and email messages seeking comment.

Rust Movie Productions, the production company, says it is cooperating with Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and conducting its own internal review of procedures with the production shut down.

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Sheriff: Projectile recovered from movie director’s shoulder